Talking About Herpes in the Supermarket
Words By Kendra Poole, Art By Karen Arnold
This poem was a F(r)iction Fall Literary Competition finalist.
I call Ellen to panic. We whisper risk factors, transmittable,
outbreak, open sore. (I am searching for an empty
aisle, some privacy. Also, for tonight’s dinner.)
He will cook me tilapia in a scallion butter sauce.
I will drink Riesling from a mason jar. I don’t want you
to be worried, he’ll say. I will kiss between
his shoulder blades. I will carry
onion peels to the trash. I will crack open
the kitchen window.
I am not mad at him. I am mad at this salad dressing.
I am mad at everything in Aisle 5: fifteen types
of Tabasco sauce, three kinds of Grey Poupon, cheap
mayo, fancy mayo, mayo with olive oil, olive oil with vinegar,
vinegar with red wine, everything mixed, bottled
together, dirty with too many flavors. How can I savor any
if they tumble, vinaigrette after vinaigrette, vying
to taste better than the last? How I wish
to have been there for the first marriage
of honey and mustard. Imagine: nothing
would ever taste better. Imagine: I have discovered
sweetness. Imagine: enough, this is enough.